Greatest Tank Battles of all Time

The Military Channel is set to debut a pretty cool series on Jan. 5 examining the most famous tank battles of all time.

Filmed on battlefields across the world, the series uses stunning, ultra-realistic CGI animation to recount the step-by-step maneuvers used in the most colossal combats from the last century.  In each episode, viewers witness the gritty realism and experience the thunderous tanks from perspectives never before possible.  Coupled with first-hand accounts from the eyes of the very soldiers who manned the guns and guided the monster machines, this new original series puts viewers right in the heat of the action and inside the tank’s atmosphere.

Watching some of the media previews, I think this marketing speak is a bit hyperbolic…the GCI is not “stunning” or “ultra-realistic” — it reminds me more of a computer tank fighting game from the discount rack at Target, than a Dreamworks production. But it’s the Military Channel, after all.

What is impressive from the episodes I’ve seen, however, are the first person interviews of the crews in some of those tanks. Listening to on the ground memories from a Syrian officer on what he saw looking down the Golan at his Israeli counterpart is awesome.

The series examines nine battles (one of them is divided into two parts) making for ten episodes. I’m not going to identify the battles they look into here because I want to see which epic tank battles our Defense Tech readers think the Military Channel should have focused on.

So list out your top 10 tank battles in the comments, and by the end of the week I’ll reveal what Military Channel went with (and no cheating please for those of you who might have access to the actual list)…

I’ll start with two of the battles they profile: The Battle of 73 Easting (Desert Storm) and the Battle for the Golan in ’73.

The series begins January 5 from 2200-2300 EST.

— Christian

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Schmoe12 @Joe_Schmoe12

    Well the 1973 Yom-Kippur War saw the greatest tank-on-tank battles of all time, even greater than Kursk. In fact, reading first hand accounts of the battle are incredible. We have at times a WW2 melee with 1970’s weapons and tanks, shooting at each other from mere meters. At other times we have a handful of tanks sniping off others from great distances.

    It also saw the first major use of a ATGM in history (Sagger and RPG2/7), and how during the battle the tankers had to come up with ways to counter. Truly, an incredible feat by the Israeli’s.

    Notable mentions to look for here are:
    Force Zvika
    “The Yom Kippur War – Abraham Rabinovich”

    ————

    Kursk also, of course, has to be given a mention. While on paper it had more tanks than the 1973 battle, most of them never saw each other. Many broke down on the way to the field and even were taken out by mines.

    Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War also showed how pertinent the tank can be under well trained troops and commanders. The war contained amazing feats of maneuver warfare, at which tanks were a critical part.

    And who can forget Patton and Rommel.

    1991’s Desert Storm also deserves a mention.

  • The One

    Obviously, the Kursk in Jul 1943. The biggest tank battle ever.

    • http://twitter.com/Joe_Schmoe12 @Joe_Schmoe12

      Most tanks ‘committed’ to a battle. Only a small percentage actually saw each other in combat.

  • Collossus

    “the GCI is not”

    CGI???

    • elgatoso

      Computer-generated imagery

      • Kylran

        I think he was noticing that the author typed ‘GCI’ instead of ‘CGI’…

        • elgatoso

          My bad

  • Ed!

    I would think for the list that both the battle of Kursk and the SS charge to attempt to break the lines for Powlus’ retreat after the battle of Stalingrad would be good to have. Battle of 73 Easting and the Battle of Medina Ridge I would also include. The battle of Taejon in the Korean war as well which saw what the T-34 could do against US armor of the period. Certainly many battles for the Yom Kippur war can be sited, especially one or two from the syrian front. I think you may have to add the first tank battle from WW1 just for it being the start of combat with tanks.

    • elgatoso

      A small correction .It is Von Paulus , not Powlus

  • tperk1

    I haven’t read much about 73 easting, but I heard we just had the Iraqi’s out-ranged and at night. So I would have ti say Kursk 1943 and the1973 Yom-Kippur War. God was definitely on the IDF’s side that day – up in the Golan Heights when the (executed) Syrian Tank commander just stopped. he thought the small bridge was left intact as part of a trap, but if he would have crossed it, who knows if Israel would even be on the map today. Can anyone recommend where I can find a good web-site that has to do with the tactics of 73 Easting ( Desert Storm)?” Send to aptonytodd@gmail.com Thanks

    • Kelly

      Ther’s a great book thats been out for quite a while: “Crusade”? I think its by a guy named Atkinson. There is a chapter on 73 Easting.

    • blight

      As far as research says, I didn’t see anything about executed Syrian tank commanders. On both sides in the Golan, there were units pitted against each other that had lost their field commanders in combat. To a force trained on timetables and on the attack, I imagine these kinds of losses are more devastating.

      • tperk1

        On a show On the History channel or Military channel about the Yom -Kippur War. the Syrian Tank commander was ordered to be executed by their High command for stopping and not taking the bridge as per the timetable of the assault. I believe there were only 3 or 6 IDF tanks on the other side, and he expected more and thought it was a trap, and while he made his decision Israeli reinforcements arrived (not much, but enough to hold the bridge).

  • Musson

    I have a couple more to throw out.

    The Battle for France would have to be here as Greman Panzers ran their Blitzkreig to perfection.

    The Battle of El AlaMein.

    The Battle of the Bulge – German Armor against American infantry and cannons.

    The Normandy Breakout – Operation Cobra

    Operation Market Garden

    • tperk1

      For the engineers and cooks who held small non-tactical positions slowing the Panzer Juggernaut that came out of the Ardeenes – you guys should have been in Artillery because that is the size of the balls it took to stand and fight Armor. The movie with Fonda in it still gives me chills when the trees start falling over… . I also read a great book about the bulge titled when trumpets sound – Great read!

  • Boswell

    Prokhorovka will be on there I’m sure. There are probably dozens of other engagements from the eastern front of WWII that could be on this show, but I imagine they will stay away from focusing too closely on any one conflict, and Prokhorovka was certainly the largest pitched tank battle from that theatre.

    But I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ardennes Offensive in ’44-’45 get a mention.

    • tperk1

      The Ukraine was great tanker country. If the Germans would have had better logistics (Airborne & ground like we have today) the Panzer corps. would have taken Russia. Instead: General Winter & Col. Time save the Soviets by allowing them to move most of their armor industry further east. I especially like reading about Stalingrad and the fighting around the Tractor factory (converted to tank manufacturing). At one point the Soviets were driving them right off the assembly line and into battle less than a few hundred-meters away! There was probably too many armored engagements on the Eastern Front to mention, it could have it’s own show – I would love that.

  • rob06

    I’d like to see the tank battles fought between Pakistani and Indian forces in there several engagemetns since partion.

    • praetorian

      Battle of Asal Uttar 1965 India vs Pakistan gets my vote

  • Muson

    They will probably want a WWI tank battle as well. I would suggest it

    would be the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 – when the British first used

    tanks successfully in numbers. Although the battle of Soissons in

    1918 might qualify, as well as the first Tank on Tank battle – the Second

    battle of Villers-Bretonneux.

    • LES

      I TOTALY AGREE ANY TANKIE WILL TELL YOU THAT FIRST HONOUR FOR THE TANKS

  • Pirouz

    Liberation of Khoramshar, Iran
    The Imposed War
    T55 (captured), M60 and M48 versus T62

    Tank battles involving Creighton Abrams (4th Armored Div) pitting Shermans against Panthers and winning.

    T-34/85 versus M41
    Korean War (Pusan perimeter)

    Centurian versus T62
    South Africa versus Cuba in Angola War

    T55 and T34/85 versus M48
    Liberation of southern VietNam
    (Final battle of the VietNam War)

    • tperk1

      Here’s one of the best you-tube links i ever found, titled; Iraqi t-72 hunted down and killed. By far the most up close infantry vs, Tank, or battle footage ever. In it Iranians are taking out T-72’s up close with Rpg’s and the crews are bailing.! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukGL2K9Me4U

    • blight

      You’ve got a great list, one that isn’t as fixated on American, Russian or Israeli battles. I recall the ARVN fought its fair share of tank battles, and did well until the supply issues finished them.

      Regarding Khoramshar, ARMOR magazine did a piece in May of ’99 (it and Hue).

      • tperk1

        I think I might of read it, or one like it titled “Tanks in the Wire,” the NVA did an excellent job bringing armor down the Ho Chi Minh trail. In the article the; FOB Green Beret camp came under attack and their superiors (on the radio is Saigon) didn’t believe they were tanks because G2 said it was impossible. The Brass were asking the men all sorts of idiotic questions. One of the men commented that he thought he was going to have to “run out knock on the hatch and ask a NVA tanker to verify he’s in a tank,” or something to that effect. I think the Green Berets had the newly issued “Laws” that proved to be ineffective.

  • Brian Mulholland

    The Prokhorovka engagement from Kursk, at a mimimum; Citadel had several individual encounters worth including, but the producers will want to stick to fights that are more familiar to Americans.; the first encounters between the T-34 and the PzKw II and III outside Moscow. El Alamein and Kasserine Pass; what about tank fights at Khalkin – Gol? the relief of Bastogne.

  • jsallison

    Without reading any of the other posts, and in no particular order: 3) Prochorovka, 4) Chinese Farm, 5) Israeli counterattack into egyptian Suez crossing defenses, 6) 3rd Army’s wheel into the flank of the Bulge Salient and relief of Bastogne, 7) El Alamein , 8) Destruction of Army Group Center (possibly a little too large in scale), 9) Operation Goodwood, 10) Khalkin Gol (sp?).

    And just for giggles I’d love to see a feature length film of the voyage of the Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet to it’s destruction at Tsushima, but I guess that’s a topic for a different post.

  • mel

    the battle of Chawinda, fought between Pakistan and India – 1965

  • blight

    Thunder Run into Baghdad might not be much tank v tank, but tank fighting in urban environments would be a great counterpoint to the standard “my tank is bigger than yours because…” that is quite typical in armchair circles.

    A full simulation of a Fulda Gap tank battle would be awesome, even if it never happened. I imagine many tankers on both sides spent their years in the service preparing for a battle that their children are probably glad never came…

    • tperk1

      Yes, I would like to see tank action in urban area’s. In Falluja, they supposedly blew holes through rows of houses so the infantry wasn’t fighting in the exposed in the streets. I think it might have been done in WWII when the fighting got into Germany & every house was turned into a pill-box.

    • SDF

      I trained for the Fulda Gap in the early 80’s. Even went to Winter training at Camp Ripley (M48A5’s!). I am SO glad that fight never came.

      • blight

        So what exactly was the game plan for Fulda? I vaguely recall an ACR being used to block until relieved (which basically meant the unit was expected to be decimated), along with vagaries about tactical nukes and the use of airpower to affect rear areas. But nothing particularly concrete…

  • Ripberger

    How about the first tank battle? The Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux during WWI between British Mark VIs and German A7Vs.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Vil

    • Ripberger

      Correction: British Mark IVs.

  • Jsmith

    Liberation of Kuwait, 1990. Got to be covered.

  • REMF

    Is “tank battle” meant to mean tank versus tank or do battles where tanks were used mainly or exclusively by only one side also count? Cambrai and the 1972 Easter Offensive come to mind.

  • Dmodder

    I agree with the above mentioned. However, don’t forget the battle for Caen. The Brits, Canadians, and Polish warriors fought a bitter battle with serious armor – although more losses to antitank guns and air cover than tank v. tank, but…

    And, this battle opened the way for the Operation Cobra to make the swing around.

  • Lautlos

    Many keep mentioning Kursk but I much prefer the Third Battle of Kharkov which led up to it. With several elite divisions on both sides it was the last real victory for the Germans on the Eastern front. While not strictly a tank vs. tank fight it featured a highly effect use of armored forces by Manstein’s AG South.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000938498463 Robin Colbert

    I was in the Battle of 73 Easting/Norfolk, But I would Have to go with the Battle of Kursk

  • Oliver

    Troop numbers and casualties at the battle of Kursk were as follows
    German Casualties at Battle of Kursk
    203,000 casualties
    720 destroyed tanks and assault guns
    681 aircraft
    1,614 – 1,956 tanks and assault guns
    459 – 1,961 aircraft
    3,929 guns
    USSR casualties at Battle of Kursk
    863,303 casualties
    6,064 tanks and assault guns
    1,626 aircraft
    5,244 guns
    It is unlikeley that any other battles have come close to this in overall size,cope and carnage.

  • Don

    I was at 73 Easting. There was busted Iraqi armor everywhere.

  • Veruca

    Proud that this series was created and produced in Canada!

  • claude johnson

    the battle of the bulge WWII.